Belgian Trip 2017 – Day Two

October 15, 2017
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An old abandoned racing pigeon loft in Belgium.

An old abandoned racing pigeon loft in Belgium.

Op de Beeck-Baetens

Jelle and I closed Day One out with a visit to Willy, Eddy, and David Op de Beeck-Baetens in Putte, Belgium. This tandem is no stranger to the winner’s circle having raced from this same location for four generations starting with David’s great-grandfather Jules Op De Beeck.

Will

Grandfather Willy Op de Beeck, son-in-law Eddy Baetens, and son and grandson David Baetens from Putte, Belgium.

In 2009 they won 1st National Bourges against 15, 508 yearlings as well as 1st National Montlucon in 2016 against 16,958 yearlings with their famous “Jannes.”  This is just the tip of the iceberg for them but I thought I’d give you a taste of what they are capable of; I believe this is why Jelle Roziers brought me to visit them.

Jannes

They are known for the strength in the middle distance races and have a strong bloodline to back it up. David was kind enough to bring several baskets of their top racers and breeders into their cozy shed they watch the race birds returning from training or racing. David’s father, Eddy, and Will David’s grandfather joined Jelle and I as well went through the many awesome birds David presented to us.

Jules

David Baetens great-grandfather Jules Op de Beeck in front of his loft.

We handled their top race cocks and an outstanding son of Van Dykes “Kannibaal.”

The old loft now used to race selected widowers and hens on the national races.

The old loft about the garage used by Op de Beeck – Baetens to race selected widowers and hens on the national races.

David walked Jelle and me through the larger loft which is set up in typical widowhood fashion and while the loft is large, there were very few pigeons in it.

The large lofts

The large lofts of Op de Beeck – Baetens but very few pigeons are kept.

Next David took us up the ancient elevator to the loft above the garage where his great-grandfather flew from back in the 1960’s. It was set up in several small widowhood sections and you could feel the history ooze from every crack and crevice. To think of the champions that flew to this loft over the past seven decades is tantalizing to imagine.

David Baetens, Jelle Roziers, and Drew Lesofski at the

David Baetens, Jelle Roziers, and Drew Lesofski at the Op de Beeck – Baetens lofts in Putte, Belgium.

The sun was setting as we said our goodbyes and it was absolutely surreal to be in Putte and meet three generations of fanciers with such an impressive record and history.

Eddy

Eddy Baetens enjoying the quiet of the evening.

Day Two – Saturday, September 23rd.

Saturday morning early was foggy and Jelle and I spent the morning looking at his birds and impressive loft setup. More on that in a separate article but you can imagine from looking at the pictures his is quite a story to tell.

After breakfast Jelle needed to pick up a few bags of Matador feed from the story, how awesome would it be to just jump in your car and drive 15 minutes to the pigeons store and get whatever you want!

Dierenspeciaalzaak Huygen in Heist-op-den-Berg or the Pet Shop.

Dierenspeciaalzaak Huygen in Heist-op-den-Berg or the Pet Shop.

The place we went was called Dierenspeciaalzaak Huygen in Heist-op-den-Berg or the Pet Shop for short. This place was as big as a Home Depot and had every conceivable item you’d want for your racing pigeons as well as for your lizard, cat, dog, horse, or fish. Was amazing to walk the aisles and look at the dozens of types of pigeon feed from just as many manufactures from all across Europe.  The grit section was huge but what impressed me the most was the amount of natural products for sale.

Huygen's

Huygen’s feed selection

Saturday was the real reason I came to Belgium, to visit Eef and Ulrich Lemmens and congratulate them on their new home and loft they build in Balen.

Huygen's grit selection

Huygen’s grit selection

I plan on doing a longer article about Lemmens so I’ll just hit on some of the highlights.

Trip to Ulrich Lemmens

Jelle and I picked up Walter de Rijck at his home and away we were off to Lemmens’ about 40 km away. The drive went smoothly and we arrived at Lemmens’ and parked in a field designated as the overflow parking lot.

Everyone got the Lux treatment at the grand opening of Ulrich Lemmens' new home and loft in Balen, Belgium.

Everyone got the Lux treatment at the grand opening of Ulrich Lemmens’ new home and loft in Balen, Belgium.

As we were walking in there were dozens of pigeon fanciers leaving having been there since the early afternoon enjoying a few Duvel beers, hamburgers, and good conversation with friends. You could tell everyone was happy and cheerful.

Walter De Rijk, Jelle Roziers, and Drew Lesofski at the opening of Ulrich Lemmens' new home and loft in Balen, Belgium.

Walter De Rijk, Jelle Roziers, and Drew Lesofski at the opening of Ulrich Lemmens’ new home and loft in Balen, Belgium.

We walked in on a red carpet and were greeted by two lovely ladies with a glass of champagne and warm Belgian smiles. Immediately left was a display for Beyers feed and a table filled with t-shirts, hats, and men’s underwear all bearing a pigeon logo and yes I bought a pair…or two….okay three pair for Christmas gifts.

Lemmens Visit 7

From there we walked into four very large breeding sections and from there rows of individual pens and then we were out in the court yard between the house and loft. There must have been at least 250 fanciers sitting and talking with each other and another 20-30 taking self-guided tours of Lemmens’ new racing loft.

The atmosphere was vibrant and full of electricity as there were hundreds of fanciers from every corner of Belgium, Holland, and from just about every corner of the globe all there supporting Lemmens.

crowd

The crowd was amazing. over 1,000 fanciers and guests from every corner of the world attended Ulrich Lemmens’ celebration.

I plan on doing a longer article about Lemmens so I’ll just hit on some of the highlights.

American

L – R: Carter “King” Mayotte, Don Lowe, Jr., Larry Bender, Drew Lesofski, and Tim Maken presenting the American flag to Ulrich Lemmens’ at his new home and loft in Balen, Belgium.

It wasn’t long until I happened upon fellow American and international celebrity Carter “King” Mayotte holding court in the spacious shad tents with several other Americans. Don Lowe, Tim Macken, Larry Bender, and all their lovely wives accompanied the “King” to Belgium and headed with the Lemmens’ later that week to watch their birds come in at the Algarve OLR in Portugal.

Loft

Ulrich Lemmens’ new racing loft in Balen, Belgium.

I presented Ulrich with an American flag that I had flown of the U.S. Capitol in honor of our friendship and Ulrich gave me three pair of young birds from the back pen when I left. Just kidding….

Wim & Steven De Troy

That evening Jelle arranged for us to visit father and son team Wim and Steven De Troy in Berlaar.  In 2016 they had a fantastic season with 5 National Ace birds within the top 40 birds in Belgium – proof they are very strong and why we Jelle wanted to visit.

Drew Lesofski and Steven De Troy

Drew Lesofski in the lofts of Steven De Troy in Berlaar, Belgium.

National Champion Great Middle Distance Youngsters KBDB 2016

  • National   La Souterraine against 16,613 b
  • National Chateauroux  against 14,762 b
  • National (z) Bourges  against 8,989 b

National Ace birds great middle distance youngsters KBDB 2016

  • 10th– “Moonlight”  BE 16-6020079
  • 19th– “Willem Tell” BE 16-6020166
  • 26th– “Star Wars” BE 16-6020109
  • 28th– “Honey-Moon” BE 16-6020117
  • 31st– “Cody” BE 16-6020137

Wim and Steven De Troy’s Top Wins Over the Years

  • 1 Nat Champion Great Middle Distance youngsters KBDB 2016
  • 1 Prov Champion Great Middle Distance youngsters KBDB 2016
  • 1 Prov Champion Great Middle Distance youngsters KBDB 2013
  • 2 Nat Champion Great Middle Distance youngsters KBDB 2013
  • 3 Nat Champion Great Middle Distance youngsters KBDB 2009
  • 3 Prov Ace bird Great middle distance 2014
  • 3 Prov Ace bird Great middle distance 2013
  • 4 Prov Ace bird Great middle distance 2013
  • 4 Nat Ace bird Great middle distance KBDB 2010
  • 5 Prov Ace bird Great middle distance 2013
  • 6 Nat Ace bird Great middle distance KBDB 2007 “Arend”
  • 10 Nat Ace bird Great middle distance KBDB 2013
  • 10 Nat Ace bird Great middle distance KBDB 2016
  • 11 Nat Ace bird Great middle distance KBDB 2013
  • 11 Nat Ace bird middle distance KBDB 2013
sect

Typical widowhood loft section in Wim and Steven De Troy’s lofts in Belaar, Belgium.

The De Troy’s race 50 widowhood cocks and 25 hens on all the national races and as you can tell from their results they are a threat to not be taken lightly.

Loft

One of Wim and Steven De Troy’s widowhood lofts Belaar, Belgium.

They typically fly about 120 young birds divided among four lofts on the darkening system. Their young birds are well trained prior to the season and also are expected to fly from Noyon and Quievrain as many times as possible.

Wim

Loft used by Wim and Steven De Troy Belaar, Belgium.

They race from three lofts in their backyard and their breeding loft is attached to their widowhood loft.  Their lofts reeked of success and each bird we handled was a magnificent specimen.

Hens

Wim and Steven De Troy had several sections set up similar to this configuration to fly hens and young birds to.

De Troy’s pigeons are known to excel in head wind races and many lofts and the few that know this make their way from all over Belgium and Holland to acquire some of their bloodstock.

Sdfd

Racing section in Wim and Steven De Troy’s loft in Belaar, Belgium.

Steven brought us into their covered porch and brought in a couple baskets of pigeons for me to look at. In one of them was a beautiful blue bar pied that caught my eye. At about the same moment this hen also caught Jelle’s eye and before I knew it she was headed to his loft. I never even had a chance! Not having a basket with us, I carried her in my lap back to Itegem.  We all had a good laugh about that.

The

Could this be Jelle Roziers next super breeding hen?

Day Three I’ll talk about my visit to Gert Heylen and our visit to the American World War II cemetery Henri-Chapelle and my visit with Belgian veterinarian Dr. Kristof Mortelmans.

Drew Lesofski

 

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3 Responses to Belgian Trip 2017 – Day Two

  1. Greg McKnight on October 15, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Drew, very nice article and I love the American flag presented to him. Can’t wait for more from your trip.

    Thank you,
    Greg

  2. CHARLIE BARBIERE on October 17, 2017 at 10:46 am

    DREW: Enjoy your articles and look forward to the rest of them. SINCERELY–CHARLIE

  3. Tom Fremont on October 18, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Now this was a great article ! I haven’t enjoyed a reading like this for quite some time… Thank you Drew for taking the time to share your experiences … You brought the reader right there as if we were with you on the trip…Outstanding job !

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